Over the past couple of weeks, several crypto founders have either stepped down from their positions, folded and declared bankruptcy, or fled from authorities after being charged with criminal offenses.
Kyle Roche, the co-founder of crypto firm Roche Freedman, has separated from the company after weeks of compounding controversy spurred by video footage leaked in August.
In light of Roche’s departure, the firm will be renamed, Freedman Normand Friedland.
“We wish Kyle the best in his future endeavors,” a spokesperson from the firm said in a statement to Law360.
At the time of the leak, the crypto attorney had been arms-deep in several class action suits filed against Binance and other major crypto companies. Roche was the legal counsel on cases brought against companies, including Tether, Bitfinex, Tron Foundation, HDR Global Trading (which operates as BitMEX), and Binance.
Within a week after the controversial video, posted by the whistleblower Crypto Leaks, went viral, Kyle Roche- in August- withdrew from the class action lawsuits.
The Video Tape
As explained by Decrypt, Roche claimed on tape that he had a 1% ownership stake in Ava Labs and the company’s native token, AVAX.
He bragged that he provided the company with helpful information on competitors, gleaned from lawsuits, in a “completely different way than being a lawyer.”
In the video published by cryptoleaks, Roche admitted that he agreed with the CEO of Ava Labs. According to him, he was to provide legal services in exchange for a certain percentage of the token supply.
He added that he owned a significant stake in Ava Labs, about a point in token supply and equity, which is a third of what Kevin Sekniqi, co-founder and current COO, has.
Kyle Roche’s Response To The Video
In response to the footage, Kyle wrote on Medium that the video clip contained “numerous unsourced false statements and illegally obtained, highly edited video clips that are not presented with accurate context.”
Denying the allegations, he stated that Christen Ager-Hanssen, who was also present, had requested the meeting to deceive and trap him. According to him, his company has been representing Ava Labs since 2019.
“Statements in the video to the contrary are false and were obtained through deceptive means, including a deliberate scheme to intoxicate and then exploit me, using leading questions,” he added.
Ava Labs founder and CEO Emin Gün Sirer called Crypto Leaks a “disreputable website.” He also denied having any personal relationship with Roche.
“He has only represented Ava Labs in a defensive capacity in a couple of run-of-the-mill corporate contract disputes and myself in a libel case,” Sirer wrote in a Medium article.
He criticized the crypto law attorney’s action, stating that making false claims about the nature of his work with Ava Labs to impress a potential business partner went against the transparent ethics that Ava Labs upheld.
Kyle Roche founded Roche Freedman with fellow former attorneys of the firm Boies Schiller in 2019. The firm specializes in suing major crypto issuers and exchanges on behalf of investors.
Bloomberg reported that his action affected his position in the company and the firm’s stand on its class action lawsuit.
During the 3rd of October hearing, Katherine Polk Failla, a U.S. district judge, removed Roche Freedman from representing plaintiffs in a class action against several crypto exchanges.
Failla called his comments “uniquely stupid,” adding that allowing the firm to continue serving as counsel would derail litigation, “…the metaphorical baggage they now carry is not in the best interests of the class.”
Kyle Roche Starts New Firm After Being Booted From Roche Freedman
Barely a week after leaving Roche Freedman, Kyle Roche appears to have rebounded with his firm and is still involved in the Celsius bankruptcy case.
In July, Jason Stone, the head of KeyFi, sued Celsius over owed funds, alleging that the company “leveraged customer deposits to manipulate crypto-asset markets and improperly accounted for certain transactions.”
The update was made public on the 20th of October by a legal filing, as the attorney told the court hearing at the Celsius bankruptcy proceedings that he had moved from Freedman to Kyle Roche P.A.
“Please take notice that at this moment, Jason Stone and KeyFi, Inc. notify the Court and all parties of record that Kyle W. Roche, who is admitted to practice in this court, is now associated with Kyle Roche P.A,” the court filing read.